Painting art requires a lot of practice, precision, focus and patience. It lets us tap into our creativity and still use our critical aspect to make the right brush stokes. Unconventional painters who paint with their feet are highly skilled and always leave us in amazement of their work and dedication. Their work cannot be differentiated from conventional painters who use their hands for paintings. People born without upper arms adapt their brain into using their feet for different tasks.
It is a well known fact that humans have well defined hand maps, however recently a study in the journal Cell Reports has proved that robust toe maps have been identified in people.
Artists that paint with their feet have finely tuned ” toe maps” in their brains, each toe is linked with a brain area visualized via fMRI. The artists posses individualized areas for each of their toes creating a well defined toe map. Consequently, the maps in the artists are in the same area of the brain.
Artists who paint with their toes have unique neural footprints in their brains. When each toe is touched during painting, a patch of brain becomes active, which links neighboring toes to similar neighboring areas of brain.
There is plenty of evidence to prove that human brain has incredible plasticity. Professional painters who use their toes for painting have allowed their brains to see their feet as fingers.
A new study led by researchers from University College of London was conducted to examine whether human brain can adapt and view each toe separately. The study included two men both in their 50’s. They use their feet the same way they would use their hands. Their feet have developed dexterity with activities like eating, writing and painting.
A relationship was found between behavior and how that shapes representations in our brain, specially the somatosensory cortex. This region of the brain represents body parts in a way that follows the position in their body. There are some functions related to brain that change dramatically for people born without upper limbs and hands.
According to lead author Daan Wesselink, “For almost all people, each of our fingers is represented by its own little section of the brain, while there’s no distinction between brain areas for each of our toes”.
The toe maps represent their brains in a way different in other people. Such artists have better sensory perception in their toes compared to regular people. The flexibility of brain allows itself to organize differently in people with starkly different events and occurrences throughout their lives.
Huang Guofu lost his arms in a horrible electric shock incident at the young age of 4. He began painting at the age of 12 to pursue his dreams. He traveled Chinese cities to create beautiful paintings on streets and sold them to passersby. He is the vice-curator of Chongqing Talents Museum now at 41 years of age.
Mapping out finger and toe activity can result in advance brain machine interface technology where the brain would be enabled to learn each digit of a prosthetic limb.
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